Friday, January 10, 2014

How To Make Your Own Perfume

As well as jewellery making I like to dabble in the art of cosmetics. I have very sensitive skin and I find homemade products don't tend to react with me like some shop bought products.

Bead It and Weep Jewellery Making Blog make Your Own Perfume

A last summer I read an article in Making magazine about making your own perfume and since then I have been hooked on making fragrances. I find smells are wonderful at bringing back memories. Last summer El and I made some perfumes. The main fragrance note mine was jasmine and now when I smell it I think of us crafting away on a hot sunny day. I was 39 weeks pregnant and we had a great time making perfume and friendship bracelets. A few days later I gave birth to my little girl.

I made a new blend for the last few weeks of winter and the coming of spring. I was going for a warm, light floral fragrance and I am pleased with it. This is the great thing about making your own scent you can make something that suits you exactly.

This is how I make perfume.

You will need:

25ml perfume bottle
Perfumer's Alcohol
Essential oils - about 3 or 4
Pipette or measuring syringe (you can get small ones from the pharmacist to give medicine to children which are ideal) 
Cotton wool
Paper plates

All my perfume supplies come from Plush Folly.

Bead It and Weep Jewellery Making Blog make Your Own Perfume

Choosing essential oils

There are many essential oils to choose from. A good place to start is the base notes directory. They have listed most famous brand perfumes and the essential oils used in them, listing some of the top, middle and base notes. I am a Chanel fan so when I started I looked at my favourites and picked oils from a few different fragrances. I didn't want make a copy of a famous brand, I wanted make something unique.

Bead It and Weep Jewellery Making Blog make Your Own Perfume

Top notes are the first scents you smell. They last for about 5 - 30 minutes and make up about 20% - 40% of the blend

Middle notes or the "heart" of the fragrance. They begin to unfold after about 10 - 30 minutes. They make up everything from 40% - 80% to the scent

Base notes linger longer than the other notes and develop after 30 minutes. They make up 10% - 25%. 

For this perfume I chose mandarin (top), frangipani (middle), jasmine (bottom) and amber (bottom)
Bead It and Weep Jewellery Making Blog make Your Own Perfume


 I have tried making perfume following suggestions to use vodka and haven't found the results to be very satisfying.  The fragrance fades very quickly. I have started using perfumer's alcohol and the results have been great. It contains additives that boost the staying the fragrance and as it is not that expensive I think it is worth it. 


1. First you have to decide on the ratio of oils in your blend. Place a ball of cotton wool on a paper plate. I used several plates. Add one drop of your top note on to each cotton wool ball. Write down on the paper plate the name of the oil and mark how many drops you added.

Bead It and Weep Jewellery Making Blog make Your Own Perfume
In my first round of adding drops of oil I tried a few different combinations. (I tried without the amber and with juniper berry.)

2. Use this method to try different combinations of oils. I had several different ratios. Once you have a few different combinations place the balls into separate glass jars and leave them for an hour. (Make sure you place the jars back on the plates otherwise you won't know which one is which!)

Bead It and Weep Jewellery Making Blog make Your Own Perfume

3. After an hour smell each cotton wool ball and decide which one you like the best. Repeat if you think another combination could be better. My final combination was

mandarin oil      II
frangipani oil     II
jasmine oil         I
amber oil           I
            =           6 drops in total 

4. Now the maths part... I am making 25ml of perfume. A perfume is 80% perfumer's alcohol and 20% essential oils. My perfume is going to consist of 20ml of perfumer's alcohol (the 80%) and 5ml of essential oils (the other 20%).

To work out the ratio of oils. I have 6 drops to my oil mixture and to increase to this to 5ml. Divide the amount required by the drops you used.

5(ml) / 6 (drops)  = 0.83

Each drop scaled up equals 0.8ml (approx)

To make my perfume blend I need

mandarin oil    1.6ml
frangipani oil   1.6ml
jasmine oil       0.8ml
amber oil          0.8ml
           =           4.8ml (nearly 5ml, close enough. I add a few more drops of frangipani) 

Bead It and Weep Jewellery Making Blog make Your Own Perfume

5. Add the oils and the perfumer's alcohol to your perfume bottle.

6. Leave your bottle in a dark place and shake every day for a week. By the end of the week your perfume will have matured and is ready to wear.

I am really pleased with this blend. The first aroma is the mandarin which is sweet and citrusy, not as sharp as lemon or grapefruit. This gradually subsides to the exotic smell of frangipani through to the base note scent of jasmine and amber. The frangipani and jasmine are fairly similiar, the amber tones these down and adds some warmth to the blend. This is perfect for the last few weeks of winter warm but with a hint of spring.

I think nearer the summer I will be making something with a fresher, greener scent.

Until next time

Nikki x
If you’re concerned about the chemicals lurking in commercial perfumes and would like an all natural option, then this post is for you! Make your own perfume at home with just vodka and essential oils and save tons of money in the process! And it’s surprisingly easy.
I have quite the memory for scents. To this day, I will get a whiff of a man’s cologne and instantly remember an old boyfriend who used to wear the same scent. Maybe that’s why I was so enamored with the movie, “Perfume: Story of  Murderer.” Ever seen it? The first time the Mr. and I saw it was when we were living in France, which is where the movie takes place, and that added to its magic. It is such a good, twisted story with dark romance – all about a very misguided young man whose only talent in the world is his incredible nose and he uses it to make perfume. Those were the days when perfume was actually made from the steam distillation of flowers (which is how essential oils are made) with no added chemicals or ingredients. It was real, natural, botanical perfume.
Now that I’ve been getting rid of toxins in our lives to everything from cleaning supplies, to lotion, toshampoo, to laundry detergent, perfume was the next thing on the list. So, I’ve lost my long-time love of perfume (been wearing it since I was a teenager and now I’m, well, in my very early thirties (smile)). I had to create one I’d like just as much as what I used to spend half a weeks’ worth of groceries on – and now I have!

Chemicals In Store-Bought Perfumes

According to this article from Scientific American, perfumes contain petrochemcials, which are chemicals derived from petroleum or natural gas, and many other hazardous synthetic chemicals. Take one of my old favorite perfumes – J’Adore by Christian Dior. The EWG (Environmental Working Group) gives it a 7 rating out of 10 for toxicity, with moderate concerns for cancer and high concerns for endocrine disruption (which effects breast cancer, thyroid, hormones and more). Eek, not good! According to this article from the EWG,
A new analysis reveals that top-selling fragrance products—from Britney Spears’ Curious and Hannah Montana Secret Celebrity to Calvin Klein Eternity and Abercrombie & Fitch Fierce —contain a dozen or more secret chemicals not listed on labels, multiple chemicals that can trigger allergic reactions or disrupt hormones, and many substances that have not been assessed for safety by the beauty industry’s self-policing review panels.
Sorry, more bad news. And I learned that second-hand scents are also harmful. Some of the chemicals even make their way into fat tissue and breast milk – NOT good for our babies. To me the scariest part is companies do not have to divulge all of the ingredients in their perfumes to protect their trade secrets, so consumers cannot find out what exactly they are getting into.
So, let’s get to the fun part! This is the same ratio of essential oils I’ve used in my homemade room deodorizer recipe. I just can’t get enough of the scent – I’m crazy about cedarwood and orange these days! I’ve also made a blend similar to the one in my homemade bath salts recipe.

How To Make Your Own Perfume : 2

  • 100 proof Vodka - please read my note below about this OR water OR a carrier oil (like jojoba, olive, grapeseed, etc.)
  • Your favorite essential oils
  • Glass spray bottle (essential oils will eat plastic)
    I got my bottle at my local natural foods store, but Amazon sells lots of adorable, vintage-style perfume bottles like this one..
Note about vodka: 100 proof is best to fully dissolve the essential oils, but all we can find at the liquor store is 80 proof, so I do have to shake it up before each use. My husband likes when I’m in a perfume mood so he can take a swig every now and then! If you use water or a carrier oil, you will also have to shake the bottle before each use.

Choosing your favorite blend of essential oils…

is really very different for each person – one oil might smell completely different from person to person as it reacts with your skin, so experiment and find a few you like! To do it correctly, you need 3 notes – top, middle and base. The top note is experienced first, then the middle, then the base. Each essential oil evaporates at different rates, so it takes knowledge of each rate to create a proper perfume – it’s really quite an art! I’m just a beginner at it myself, but am learning a lot as I go. To read more about it, see this article from Aroma Web where they list all the top, middle and base notes. I suggest choosing one from each category to start!

Essential Oils are Powerful…

and should be used sparingly as perfume/cologne. Some are not safe to be used on the skin.
So, here are some blends I really like!

Make with 2 tablespoons of vodka or water, for larger quantities you may want to add more oils.

Forest Fairies Blend

  • 40 drops orange essential oil
  • 20 drops cedarwood oil
  • 10 drops peppermint oil
  • 5 drops rosemary oil

Romantic Flower Garden

  • 20 drops Orange Essential Oil
  • 5 drops Lavender Essential Oil
  • 10 drops Patchouli Essential Oil
  • 10 drops Cedarwood Essential Oil
  • 5 drops Ylang Ylang Essential Oil
  • 5 drops Bergamot Essential Oil
Mountain Rose Herbs has a great post about how to make perfume from actual herbs, plants and flowers if you’d like to go that route.

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